BANFF – Wildlife viewing restrictions in Jasper National Park aren’t being extended to Banff, Yoho and Kootenay this summer.
In Jasper, people are banned from getting out of their vehicles to view wildlife under a new restriction that runs until at least Aug. 31 to keep both wildlife and people safer.
“At this time, there are no similar wildlife viewing restrictions in place in Banff, Yoho or Kootenay national parks,” said Amy Krause, a spokesperson for Parks Canada.
Krause, however, pointed to no-stopping zones implemented earlier this spring in Kootenay and Yoho national parks as a means to protect bears, including a three-and-a-half-year-old rare white grizzly.
“Parks Canada is focusing on communications, compliance, and enforcement to ensure visitors know what is required to protect people and wildlife,” she said.
“The agency would like to thank the public for respecting no-stopping zones and other measures.”
Highways and roads throughout the mountain national parks experience dangerous situations with "bear jams," as people park to view wildlife feeding on roadside vegetation.
In Jasper, most of the grizzly bears and their cubs have moved up from the valleys into the alpine and subalpine, however they have been replaced in and around the townsite by more black bears.
Steve Young, a spokesperson for Jasper National Park, said people must stay in their vehicles when viewing wildlife.
“This restriction is designed to continue to give bears and other wildlife the space they need,” he said in a news release.
“If you are involved in a wildlife ‘jam' please listen to the direction of Parks Canada specialists who are managing roadside wildlife.”
Young said staying in your vehicle reduces the risk of wildlife attacks and habituation, and provides a greater level of safety for everyone.
“Those who create unsafe conditions for people or wildlife could face prosecution,” he said.
Parks Canada provides the following bear safety reminders: carry bear spray, keep dogs on a leash and travel in groups.
If you encounter a bear, stay calm, pick up children, stay in a group, back away slowly, leave the area. If this is impossible, wait until the bear leaves and make sure it has an escape route.
To reduce your risk of a surprise encounter make lots of noise, travel in groups on established trails and during daylight hours; leave the area if you see a bear or fresh tracks, droppings, or diggings, or if you come across an animal carcass.
Parks Canada asks that all bear sightings be reported to Banff dispatch at 403-762-1470.